Private first class Andy Meacham, a former resident of Opal, had planned to give his fiancée an exquisite engagement ring.
Meacham and his fiancée Amanda Paulson had talked about getting married before Meacham was deployed to Afghanistan but they had not made an official announcement to their families yet.
Meacham had signed up to serve in the U.S. military during his senior year of high school. “I knew it’s what I always wanted to do,” Meacham said.
He headed off to basic training with the U.S. Army one week after his graduation from Kemmerer High School in 2007.
In the early part of 2008, Meacham found himself in Afghanistan, where he did base security. In the meantime, Paulson had moved to North Carolina, where she awaited her fiancé’s safe return.
While in Afghanistan, Meacham found and purchased the perfect engagement ring.
Meacham got quite a bargain on the ring, which in the States appraised for an impressive sum. “I got it for quite a bit less than it would cost here,” he said.
However, Meacham got more than he bargained for in trying to get the ring to his fiancé, now his bride.
Meacham had to figure out where to safely store his precious diamond engagement ring while he was stationed abroad. Meacham ended up placing the ring in a military shipping container, and it was shipped to the States while Meacham was still in Afghanistan.
“I was told when I returned from Afghanistan I would get it back,” Meacham said.
When Meacham got back to the States at the end of April, the ring hadn’t yet arrived. “It was in a ship container somewhere in the Atlantic,” said Andy’s mom, Mary Hall of Opal.
The couple decided to marry without the ring. They exchanged vows on May 6.
The container finally arrived at Fort Bragg where Meacham was stationed, in June, however, the Meachams still couldn’t get their ring.
“It (the safe) was in North Carolina, in my unit’s headquarters in a closet,” Meacham said. “There was a breakdown in communication, and they managed to lose the combination for the safe. The chain of command had gotten switched.”
As it turned out, the only man who knew the combination to the safe got transferred to another unit. “They finally tracked him down, but he couldn’t remember the combination,” Meacham said.
“You wouldn’t believe the things they told him,” Hall said. For four months, Meacham attempted to get his ring back, with no success.
“I finally took matters into my own hands,” Meacham said.
He wrote to Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, who both said they would do whatever they could to help.
Meacham informed his commanders that he had gone to his Wyoming Senators for assistance. “It was literally that same weekend that they got the safe opened,” Meacham said.
Meacham was finally able to place the ring on his bride’s finger in early September, after wading through a four month maze of military red tape.
“It is different than most wedding rings, “ Amanda said about the ring. “I like it. I am just glad we finally got it.”
On Tuesday of this week, the Meachams had a lot to celebrate: Veterans’ Day, Amanda’s twenty-first birthday, Andy’s safe return from Afghanistan, the ring’s safe boat trip and eventual rescue from its lock box and the fact that the two are expecting their first child in February.
Meacham is scheduled to be deployed in July of 2009, most likely to Iraq. “I’m coming back home (to Kemmerer) to be closer to my family during his deployment,” Amanda said.
Amanda’s family includes her parents, Jeff and Janet Paulson, a brother, David, and grandparents Roger and Violet Paulson, and Helen Pope, all Kemmerer residents.
During his next deployment Meacham can rest assured that his new baby, his bride and her ring will be surrounded by family members, all awaiting his safe arrival.